Adventures of An Aspiring Librarian

Health Science Library Internship–Week 11

on April 13, 2014

This week, I met with Mellanye, the Liason Librarian for the School of Public Health. Mellanye often conducts consults to help patrons and researchers better understand their research. She teaches them how to search, how to narrow their searches, which databases work best for their topics, and other helpful research tips.

I had never sat in on a health information consult before…I am a huge people person, and I have always loved the reference and research side of librarianship, so needless to say, I was very excited about this opportunity!

Our client was a student interested in emergency medicine in developing countries (particularly in their hospitals). He was planning a research trip to Kenya, where he would assist in planning a new triage program to help improve patient outcomes.

Now, when I was sitting in the consult, I had never heard of triage, so I quickly researched it while Mellanye began to help the client. Triage is a medical term for assigning degrees of urgency to medical cases in order to decide the order of treatment.

Mellanye first narrowed down his research goals and location. We discovered the client wished to see whether or not triage improved the efficiency of a hospital, and if it in fact reduced a patient’s outcome and/or time in the hospital. The ultimate goal is a reduction in mortality. Since this is a large goal, we broke the research process down into pieces. Mellanye recommended using MESH terms to help the researcher narrow down his search results for “global health”. MESH terms are specific medical library controlled terms or vocabulary (otherwise known as subject headings) that, combined, can help narrow and define a search so that search results can be pointed and accurate. It should be noted the MESH terms work primarily with the database PubMed. Here is an example of how it works:

An example of narrowing MeSH terms

An example of narrowing MeSH terms


All in all, I think the client was quite happy with the results, as the more we searched and the more Mellanye recommended, the more specific and targeted results he uncovered. He scheduled another meeting with her to discuss what he finds in these results. Hopefully this will help his narrow and define his search even more. I really enjoyed this consult, and I learned SO much by observing how she interacted with the client and and how the search was conducted. I had never even heard of MESH terms before this, so this was an eye opener!

I love putting the theory and hypothetical situations of class into practice in real life scenarios.


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